Blue Yodel #52 – White House Blues

This is Blue Yodel #52, the same as the world-record number of strings broken by the band High Wind Advisory the night of December 5, 1983 in Delphi Plains, Ohio, when they attempted a bluegrass version of the rock opera, Tommy.

I bring up Ohio only because tomorrow the good people of that state will once again exercise their right every four years to choose a president for the rest of us.

Not that I envy them. Out here in California, or in some other deep blue or red state that the campaigns have long given up on, you’d be hard pressed to find a Romney or Obama ad, though we do have our share of local mudslingers.

One San Diego mayoral candidate is running an ad showing a distraught airline baggage handler saying that the other candidate yelled at her and made her cry. I wish I could make the Delta baggage handler who broke the neck of my Martin guitar cry a little. Okay, a lot; I’m not running for mayor.

Don’t worry, folks. I’m not going to try to persuade you one way or the other. My only advice is to fly Southwest.

Like that tearful four-year-old who is tired of “Bronco Bama” and “Mitt Rominey,” I’m sick of the whole thing too and look forward to waking up on November 7 to a nation once again united in the pursuit of the perfect bacon cheeseburger.

But I harbor no illusions. As Aristotle said, “I’m pretty sure we almost broke up last night
 when I threw my phone across the room at you.” Sorry, that was Taylor Swift.

Aristotle said, “Man is a political animal.” Which explains why everybody back then wanted to party at Plato’s and not Aristotle’s. They were as sick of hearing about politics as we are today.

I would also like to remind you of the words of Aristotle’s nephew, Kevin of Macedon, who, as he left a family gathering after a bit too much wine, rolled down the window of his chariot, and shouted back at the philosopher, “And another thing, man is NOT a @#!$ political animal!”

There is not a lot of politics in bluegrass. And by that, I mean there is a lot of politics in bluegrass.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s that you can say one thing and then the exact opposite and people will determine your truthiness by how far the polls shift.

I’ve just been told that my numbers are down two points in Downton Abbey, Arkansas, which means it’s time to either man up and suspend my campaign or double-down on both stances.

Beyond the occasional re-writes of White House Blues, I can’t think of any political bluegrass songs. Sure, Bill Clinton used to play More Pretty Girls Than One on the saxophone and George W. Bush was once convinced he was his own grandpa, but beyond that, not much.

And that’s a good thing!

It’s hard enough to get a band to play in time together without the mandolin player questioning the bass player’s stance on campaign finance. I say let’s keep politics out of the music and put it in IBMA board meetings where it belongs.

I think it was either James or Rodney King who said, “Can’t we all just get along?” I’m not saying that so much as I’m saying, “Can’t we all please remember to bring our own floss on these long tours?”

Sure, politics is important. But remember my other position: politics is not important.

I can go whole days without getting irritated at my congressperson, whoever he or she is. And while my neighbor has spent his energy being angry at me for stealing his yard sign every night, he’s unaware that I’ve also gotten away with his recliner, a toaster, and an Xbox 360.

I’m just asking for a little perspective. And maybe some reverb and pitch correction because I’d like what I’m writing to be narrated by one of those scary-voice actors in a political ad. Really, you can make anything sound sinister in one of those.

I do have one suggestion for future elections. If we’re going to have candidates going around pretending they’re somebody they’re not and promising treats, then I see no reason why elections can’t be held on Halloween. This has the added benefit of everyone being too sick on November 1 (celebrated as The Day of the Dead Snickers Wrappers) to care about who won the election.

My pollster just told me I’ve swung too negative and now have to come back with a positive message:

I hope you vote. Or vote again if you’ve already voted by mail. Or vote, then watch as your teenage son who just turned 18 cancels your vote just because he’s a teenager and always does the exact opposite of whatever advice you give him.

One rule: whatever happens, no gloating or whining. We still live in America and I’m pretty sure 1) nobody’s going to come looking for my Flatt & Scruggs collection and 2) porta-potties will always be there.

At this point, my expectations have been lowered so far, that’s all I care about anyway.

Go Buckeyes.

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About the Author

Chris Stuart

Chris Stuart is a writer and songwriter living in San Diego. He was the 2008 recipient of the IBMA Print Media Person of the Year award, co-writer of the 2009 IBMA Song of the Year, and past winner of the Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting contest in bluegrass and gospel categories. You can follow him on Twitter @cvstuart, on Facebook, and at On Tuesdays you can find him having fish tacos at Roberto’s in Del Mar.